Our strength is our team members, who can combine various technologies.

Chief Executive Officer

Toru Nishikawa

PFN is not an AI pure play.
We aspire to create new technology.

The first thing I would like to say is that PFN does not solely focus on AI technology. For us, AI and machine learning are one of the means to realize our vision although we are often referred to as an AI company in media coverage. Machine learning is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools, and PFN is very active in the research and development of machine learning and deep learning. PFN, however, does not only possess high-level machine learning skills but our true strength lies in our team’s ability to combine various expertise toward the applications of machine learning to the real world.

The fusion of hardware, software, and computer networks, in particular, is our forte. By considering advancements in computer architecture, high-performance computing, and machine learning at the same time, we can process data in a scale that has never been possible before. This gives birth to new applications as well as enabling us to acquire a deep knowledge as to what kind of architecture is best suited for machine learning. This leads to the creation of new computer architecture. Additionally, collaborations between hardware such as robotics and automobiles and software expand the application area of hardware. Robust control under various conditions vastly expands the areas where such hardware can be deployed. Leveraging machine learning to these fields has become one of the application areas of significant interest.

On top of that, we want to devise an evolutionary way to design and make hardware through the advancement of software. Instead of just applying software to existing hardware, we strive to initiate the evolution of hardware by having a deep understanding of and acquiring the capability to design hardware. Although software runs on hardware, these two areas have not been closely related to each other in a sense that hardware and software engineers usually do not work in close connection as a team. But we should aim for the creation of new technology through a powerful fusion of these two areas.

At PFN, we have not just hardware and software engineers and researchers but all kinds of people working together to create new technology. Life science and machine learning, animation and machine learning are just a few of many examples. Our team tries to combine multiple areas of specialty by deeply understanding each other’s field of expertise in order to bring into existence a new area of technology that would never be feasible if members were working individually on their own areas.

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Researchers and Engineers

We are often asked by applicants about the positions of researchers and engineers, but there is no clear distinction between them. Our researchers acquire engineering technology and produce good software that is also practical. Engineers are free to take part in research projects as well. This allows research results to be materialized into software quickly. Having hardware and software engineers and researchers with mixed areas of specialty working in the same team and same environment helps each team member obtain a deep knowledge outside his or her field, and more importantly, learn to have respect for each other’s specialty. This also means we have a great environment to study.

Some of our members did not have detailed knowledge about machine learning when they first began working at PFN, but they acquired the knowledge quickly and now produce excellent research results in this area. Some joined PFN as a machine learning expert and studied robotics. Now they are one of the leading researchers and producing good research results in the field of robotics as well. I am also one of them benefitting from this environment, enabling me to acquire extensive knowledge and a new way of thinking by talking with other members of the company. My main focus now is to run this company, but I used to enjoy participating in programming competitions and studying high-performance computing while in school. So, my life in PFN is very exciting as an engineer, too

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The way we work as a team

So far, I have focused on technical aspects, but our engineers and researchers also work very closely with Corporate Services (a team supporting corporate functions such as general affairs, finance, accounting, and human resources), Business Development, and PR teams.

Our company is in the developing phase at the very moment. Our corporate functions are improving day by day, enabling us to do more things. By fusing not only technologies but various other areas that drive our business growth, mutual respect is formed, which then speeds up our corporate activity. We do not have such a rule that business developers are not allowed to engage in technological development. By learning achievements of the latest technological development, corporate service members can also have deep insights into what our organization is supposed to be. All members join forces as a strong team to move the company forward. This is the way it should be. Above all, having an opportunity to learn everything from corporate management to business to technology gives a great stimulus for my intellectual curiosity as well.

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PFN spends the most on its employees

PFN has an environment where people of different areas trust each other and have opportunities to put their skills to good use. This is what is really fascinating about working at PFN. Thus, the people we work with are the greatest asset, and this is the area PFN concentrates resources on the most. It is very important that our employees can work vigorously in a healthy environment over a long period of time while also having a fulfilling private life. So, PFN has a system that allows everyone to work with a sense of security and provides an environment to fully utilize their skills. PFN takes its employees’ welfare and benefits seriously.

What we allocate our resources to next are computation and R&D environments. It would be a great loss of opportunity if our research came to a halt due to lack of GPUs. It would be very wasteful, so PFN has and will continue to implement large-scale clusters. It is also important to have an environment that allows you to conduct research in many areas without restrictions. You wouldn’t be able to study and understand characteristics of robots if you could only operate them remotely. You will gain a deeper understanding of robots by prototyping hardware. This is why PFN has many robots within its office despite its location in the heart of Tokyo’s Otemachi business district. Our effort to set up machines for prototyping hardware is progressing. At PFN, it is not rare to see a robot whirring and moving about in our conference rooms.

On the other hand, there are some areas where we put less focus on. Honestly speaking, we do not have a fancy office. Instead, we are concentrating on making an environment where our employees can focus on their development efforts as well as having space where our members can communicate and connect with each other. But, there are few things of novelty at PFN. We would rather acquire more high-performance GPUs. The historical Otemachi Building in which PFN resides is not new but one of the few places that house industrial robots in central Tokyo. It’s a very exciting place for me, too.

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What matters are your growth and potential

PFN prioritizes your growth and potential over your prior experience. The world of technology is progressing at an accelerating pace. Your current knowledge alone will soon become obsolete. Having experience inarguably has the advantage of making you fast to adapt to new technology. But, your potential can fill the experience gap. The will to challenge yourself in a new area is vital. At PFN, we work every day on the initiative to accelerate growth. PFN regards your potential and will to grow as key criteria for hiring. Young people may be feeling uneasy about applying because they think their experience is insufficient. Do not let inexperience discourage you from applying if you have a big goal to achieve and ambition to grow because PFN has high expectations on that potential.

Finally, we have no intention to remain a mere AI company but rather aspire to create new value by fusing cutting-edge technologies including machine learning. In order to realize this, we need experts from various fields as well as people who are passionate about innovation. We are not only looking for those that fit our current openings, but optimistic about talents who may be able to fill positions not listed here and become the driving force for PFN to take on future challenges. If you want to be a part of creating revolutionary technology at PFN and continue to grow with us, we look forward to hearing from you.

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